A special court has slapped a penalty of Rs 5,000 on CBI for causing an “infructuous” hearing in the 2006 Naval War Room leak case in which arms dealer Abhishek Verma and four former naval officers, including a Wing Commander, are facing trial.
The court passed the order as no prosecution witness could be examined due to the unavailability of the special prosecutor who was said to be busy in Delhi High Court.
“Witness (Retd) Commander Atul Nag is also present since morning. It is now stated by proxy counsel for Special PP for CBI, Rajiv Mohan, that he is held up in High Court in some matter and he will be coming around lunch time.
“However, other defence counsel submit that they are not willing to wait till that time, as they are waiting since morning and they have urgent matters in other courts to attend. Therefore, for rendering today’s purpose as infructuous and since the witness is present since morning and has to be discharged unexamined, costs of Rs 5,000 is imposed upon CBI,” Special CBI Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal said.
The court directed the CBI to depute another prosecutor by the next date of hearing after it was informed that prosecutor Mohan had written to the agency to relieve him of his duties as SPP from the future proceedings in the case.
The court fixed the case for October 17 for recording of prosecution evidence.
Former naval officer Kulbhushan Prashar, former commander Vijender Rana, sacked naval commander V K Jha, former IAF Wing Commander Sambha Jee L Surve and alleged arms dealer and Delhi-based businessman Abhishek Verma are facing trial in the case for the offence of criminal conspiracy under IPC and under various provisions of Official Secrets Act (OSA).
While Prashar, Surve, Rana and Jha are on bail, Abhishek Verma is lodged in jail under judicial custody.
Meanwhile, the court granted time to CBI and Verma to respond to a plea by Edmonds Allen, former business partner of Verma, seeking cancellation of bail of the alleged arms dealer.
The 2006 Navy War Room leak case involves leakage of over 7000 pages of sensitive defence information from the Naval War Room and the Air Headquarters, having a direct bearing on national security.
The court had earlier framed charges after the five accused pleaded not guilty and claimed trial. Prime accused Ravi Shankaran is still absconding and has been declared a proclaimed offender by the court.